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Using a VPN is a great way to shield your internet traffic when you are traveling, but it is not a solution for encrypting your regional files. .
When the FBI needed information from the San Bernardino shot's iPhone, they asked Apple for a rear door to get beyond the encryption. However, no such back door existed, and Apple refused to make one. The FBI had to employ hackers to get into the phone.
Why wouldn't Apple help Because the moment a back door or comparable hack is different, it will become a target, a prize for the bad guys. It'll leak sooner or later. In a discussion at Black Hat last summer, Apple's Ivan Krstic revealed the company has done something similar in their cryptographic servers.
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Apple can't update thembut the poor guys can't get in either. .
Each of the products in this roundup explicitly state they have no back door, and that's as it should be. It will mean that if you encrypt an essential document and then forget the encryption password, then you have lost it for good.
Back in the day, if you wanted to maintain a document secret you could use a cipher to encrypt it and then burn the original. Or you might lock it up in a safe. The two main methods in encryption utilities parallel these options.
One type of product simply processes files and folders, turning them into impenetrable encrypted versions of themselves. The other creates a virtual disk that, when open, acts like any other drive on your system. When you lock the digital drive, all the documents that you put into it's completely inaccessible. .
Similar to the digital drive solution, some goods store your encrypted information in the cloud. This approach requires extreme caution, obviously. Encrypted data in the cloud has a far bigger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.
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Which is better It really depends on how you plan on using encryption. If you are not sure, take advantage of the 30-day free trial offered by each of those products to get a feel for the different options.
Once you copy a document into secure storage, or create an encrypted version of it, then you definitely need to wipe the unencrypted original. Simply deleting it isn't sufficient, even in the event that you bypass the Recycle Bin, since the information still exists on disk, and data retrieval utilities can often return back. .
Some encryption products avoid this issue by encrypting the file in place, literally overwriting it on disc with an encrypted version. It is more common, however, to offer secure deletion as an option. If you select a product that lacks this attribute, you should find a free secure deletion tool to use along with it. .
Overwriting data before deletion is sufficient to balk software-based retrieval tools. Hardware-based forensic recovery functions since the magnetic recording of information on a hard drive isn't actually digital. It's more of a waveform. In simple terms, the procedure involves nulling out the known data and reading around the borders of what's left.
An encryption algorithm is like a black box. Dump a document, picture, or other file into it, and you get back what seems like gibberish. Run that gibberish back via the box, with the exact same password, and you get back the original.
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The U.S. government has settled on Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as wikipedia reference a standard, and all the products accumulated here service AES. Even those that support other algorithms tend to recommend using AES.
If you are an encryption specialist, you may prefer another algorithm, Blowfish, possibly, or even the Soviet government's GOST. For the average user, however, AES is just fine.
Passwords are important, and you must keep them confidential, right Well, not when you use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography.
With PKI, you get two keys. One is public; you can share it with anyone, enroll it in a key exchange, tattoo it on your foreheadwhatever you like. Another is private, and needs to be carefully guarded. If I want to send you a secret document, I just encrypt it with your public key.
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Using this program in reverse, you can make an electronic signature which shows that your document came from you and hasn't been altered. How Exactly To encrypt it with your private key. The fact that your public key decrypts it is all the proof you need. PKI support is less common than support for traditional symmetric algorithms. .
If you want to share a file with someone and your encryption application doesn't support PKI, there are different options for sharing. Many products enable creation of a self-decrypting executable file. You may also find that the recipient can use a free, decryption-only tool.